Blooming Wellness https://bloomingwellness.com Health & Wellness Blog by Dr. Eeks Thu, 26 Nov 2020 19:05:35 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.5.3 https://bloomingwellness.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/cropped-favicon-32x32.png Blooming Wellness https://bloomingwellness.com 32 32 My Take on the Dannish Face Mask Study Everyone is Fighting About https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/my-take-on-the-dannish-face-mask-study-everyone-is-fighting-about/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/my-take-on-the-dannish-face-mask-study-everyone-is-fighting-about/#respond Thu, 26 Nov 2020 19:01:50 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=21028 Another day, another fight over face masks. It used to be that we couldn’t talk about politics or religion. Well, I added a third: face masks. If you have strong opinions in those 3 areas, you will lose friends. But let’s talk about the Dannish face mask study, because while I enjoy a good fight, […]

The post My Take on the Dannish Face Mask Study Everyone is Fighting About appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
Another day, another fight over face masks. It used to be that we couldn’t talk about politics or religion. Well, I added a third: face masks. If you have strong opinions in those 3 areas, you will lose friends. But let’s talk about the Dannish face mask study, because while I enjoy a good fight, so many people are getting it wrong.

In my most recent video, I discuss the new Dannish face mask study, what it means for us, and the media’s response.  I work in health communications, so the media’s response was most interesting to me. A few people on my Facebook wellness page shamed me for linking to this article, because they said it would encourage people to not wear masks. So, yes, they asked me to ignore a randomized controlled trial on face masks, one that was published in a top, peer-reviewed journal, because they were afraid the findings would sway people to act in a way they didn’t like. And I was an “influential” person so I had to act in a “responsible way” that wouldn’t get people killed. What do I say to them? Take a hike. I think the least scientific thing I could do is not share the article. Hiding articles or tearing them apart because I don’t like the results is the definition of bias. It’s the definition of dishonesty. People can try to shut me up, but I won’t be a willing whore for the popular narrative.

Before I post my opinion of the Dannish face mask study, a short story: A few weeks ago, I posted a link to a podcast I did with an epidemiologist in Hong Kong. He did a study on face masks and explained why he believes they are helpful in slowing the spread of COVID-19. While it got many shares, it got me a lot of negative feedback. I mean a lot. The most precious one that stands out the most is from a middle-aged woman in Canada. She told me I should be charged with “assisted homicide by suffocation” for merely posting the link. You can listen to the face mask podcast here, but let me be clear: No matter what I’ve posted about face masks, I’ve been accused of killing people.

The Dannish face mask study video is on my Instagram page and my Facebook page. But lots of folks told me they don’t use those sites, so I uploaded it to Vimeo and posted it below. Please feel free to share it, comment or accuse me of killing people. I’ve become accustomed to the charge.

The post My Take on the Dannish Face Mask Study Everyone is Fighting About appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/my-take-on-the-dannish-face-mask-study-everyone-is-fighting-about/feed/ 0
My Thoughts on Health Information Censorship https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/my-thoughts-on-health-censorship/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/my-thoughts-on-health-censorship/#respond Thu, 26 Nov 2020 12:52:20 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=21010 From my Facebook Wellness Page: Click here to watch You can also watch the same video ( and other ones I made) on my Instagram TV Channel here. Thanks for watching, guys. And I look forward to your thoughts on this topic. I think it’s an important one. If you visit my social media pages, […]

The post My Thoughts on Health Information Censorship appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
Health Information Censorship

From my Facebook Wellness Page:

Click here to watch

You can also watch the same video ( and other ones I made) on my Instagram TV Channel here.

Thanks for watching, guys.

And I look forward to your thoughts on this topic. I think it’s an important one. If you visit my social media pages, you’ll realize that I welcome discussions and don’t delete comments that go against “my” narrative. Or even ones that call me creative insults. I DO judge your insults, though. Like, if they aren’t creative, I sigh a little.  Like I say in the video, the most dangerous thing is not hearing information that is counter to my, or anyone’s, narrative. The most dangerous thing is losing our ability to respond.

PS: People asked me where I got the shirt I’m wearing in the video. I got it at the NY Public Library. They have some great shirts there.

 

Warmly,

Erin

The post My Thoughts on Health Information Censorship appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/my-thoughts-on-health-censorship/feed/ 0
Medical Trivia: The People Who Couldn’t Stop Dancing https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/medical-trivia-the-people-who-couldnt-stop-dancing/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/medical-trivia-the-people-who-couldnt-stop-dancing/#respond Sat, 14 Nov 2020 10:34:22 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20926 I’ve been a bit behind in my medical trivia posts, but here’s another one for you guys to mule over:  

The post Medical Trivia: The People Who Couldn’t Stop Dancing appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
I’ve been a bit behind in my medical trivia posts, but here’s another one for you guys to mule over:

 

Medical Trivia

The post Medical Trivia: The People Who Couldn’t Stop Dancing appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/medical-trivia-the-people-who-couldnt-stop-dancing/feed/ 0
Most Common Car Crash Injuries https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/most-common-car-crash-injuries/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/most-common-car-crash-injuries/#respond Thu, 12 Nov 2020 10:43:56 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20919 By: Julia Evans  Not medically reviewed by Erin Stair, MD, MPH    Although you personally might be a safe driver, there is no guarantee that everyone else on the road is the same, and so, unfortunately, car crashes happen a lot more than they should. Some accidents might just be a small scrape, whereas others […]

The post Most Common Car Crash Injuries appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
By: Julia Evans 

Not medically reviewed by Erin Stair, MD, MPH 

 

Although you personally might be a safe driver, there is no guarantee that everyone else on the road is the same, and so, unfortunately, car crashes happen a lot more than they should. Some accidents might just be a small scrape, whereas others can cause more lasting damage. If you ever find yourself in a collision, find a New York car accident lawyer to speak to for further information. Here are some of the most common car crash injuries.

 

Whiplash

When your car (and therefore your body) is moving at an accelerated speed and suddenly has to stop, especially if your car has been hit from behind, you are likely to experience whiplash. The injury is usually within the muscles, ligaments, or tendons of the neck and can be incredibly painful. It can take a long while to heal fully, and some people find that they get chronic pain in the area for years after.

 

Broken ribs

Your rib cage protects vital organs such as your lungs and heart; however, your ribs are also surprisingly fragile, and the impact of your airbag or seatbelt during a collision can cause them to break. Broken ribs are incredibly painful, and there is little that can be done to help them set, other than providing you with lots of pain relief and rest.

 

Cuts, scrapes, and lacerations

Whether from banging your head on the steering wheel, or a loose projectile in the car such as your keys, cuts can be incredibly common in car crash injuries. Small scratches and scrapes might not need any treatment beyond basic first aid; however, deeper lacerations or cuts that won’t stop bleeding will need medical attention. It’s important that open wounds are kept clean, and pressure is applied to help them clot.

 

Head injuries

Head injuries can be incredibly dangerous if they have caused internal damage, as this might not be seen immediately and can cause long-term complications for the future. It is important to be aware of hitting your head, and even if you feel well immediately after the crash, you should be aware of symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, and double vision, as these may be a sign that there is more damage internally.

 

Internal bleeding

Another example of an injury that might not be immediately obvious; internal bleeding is incredibly dangerous and can be life-threatening. A medical professional should check you over to assess whether you have any internal bleeding and what treatment you require.

 

Many car crashes will just leave the drivers feeling a little shaken, and their confidence knocked, but it is important to be aware of the injuries that can happen. It’s easy to get a little complacent when we drive so often, but a momentary lapse of concentration or a distraction can have devastating consequences, so it’s vital to always be aware of your surroundings when you are driving, to save yourself from any of the painful injuries we’ve listed above.

The post Most Common Car Crash Injuries appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/most-common-car-crash-injuries/feed/ 0
7 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health in the Winter https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/7-ways-to-care-for-your-mental-health-in-the-winter/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/7-ways-to-care-for-your-mental-health-in-the-winter/#respond Thu, 12 Nov 2020 10:36:31 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20917 By: Jane Nowlan  Not medically reviewed by Erin Stair, MD, MPH    It can be tricky looking after your mental health at the best of times. However, the struggle can be even greater whenever winter comes around. The short days and cold weather often make everything seem miserable, which in turn dampens your spirit and […]

The post 7 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health in the Winter appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
By: Jane Nowlan 

Not medically reviewed by Erin Stair, MD, MPH 

 

It can be tricky looking after your mental health at the best of times. However, the struggle can be even greater whenever winter comes around.

The short days and cold weather often make everything seem miserable, which in turn dampens your spirit and leaves you feeling vulnerable. Winter doesn’t have to be this way if you don’t want it to, though. There’s so much you can do to ease your mind and make it through to spring happy and healthy.

Blood Sugar Levels

A good diet is essential for maintaining your physical health. However, what you eat affects more than just your figure. Certain foods can have a significant impact on your blood sugar levels, which in turn can affect your mood. Processed foods and foods containing refined sugar are particularly bad for this, so avoiding those in the winter is a good idea.  Moreover, increasing your protein and fibre intake will help regulate your blood sugar levels, so the chances of them spiking and plummeting will decrease.

Sleep

If the sun’s going to abandon us during the winter, we may as well make the most of all that darkness, right? Getting a good night’s sleep can help immensely when it comes to your mental health, so making time for 7-9 hours of it a day is essential. That can be difficult for some people, especially if you have a lot on your mind. Therefore, it’s worth taking an hour or so every day to properly wind down before bed. That means doing things like deep breathing exercises and turning off all technology.

Cycling

Physical activity and mental wellbeing go hand in hand, no matter what time of year it is. That’s because exercise releases endorphins which play a vital role in improving your mood. So, if you want to keep yourself smiling during the winter months, taking up an activity like running or cycling might be a good idea. We know that cycling in the winter might not always seem like the best or safest idea, particularly if you’re cycling in the snow. However, it’s preferable to exercise that’s based indoors for one very good reason.

Vitamin D

The sun does more for us than simply keeping things light and warm. It’s through this flaming star in the sky that we’re able to get a regular dose of vitamin D. A deficiency in this can lead to mental health issues like depression, so keeping your body dosed up is an excellent idea. Obviously, exercising outside and exposing yourself to natural light is a great way to achieve this. However, it should be noted that this isn’t as effective during winter months due to lower levels of UVB radiation. So, it’s a good idea to combine outdoor activities with supplements and vitamin D-rich food to keep your levels strong.

Painting

With the days being shorter and colder, the temptation to stay at home can be overwhelming during the winter. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do for your mental wellbeing without ever leaving the comfort of your sofa, provided you’re happy to get creative. Activities like painting can really help to relax the mind because they offer a distraction from everyday stressors. Plus, they provide you with a canvas to express all your negative thoughts and feelings, rather than letting them set up shop in your mind. Who knows, you may even create something that you feel inclined to share with the world, and from there, anything could happen.

SAD Light

While enjoying natural light is important in the winter, people can’t always get as much of it as they’d like. If you find yourself missing out on too much sunlight, investing in a SAD light might be a good idea. These are lightboxes specially designed to help those with a form of depression known as Seasonal Affective Disorder. They aim to mimic the positive effects of natural light, something that typical household lights can’t manage. Although they’re no replacement for the real thing, they make an excellent alternative if you’re stuck inside most days during the winter.

Talk To People

When is talking to someone ever not a good idea for improving your mental wellbeing? Whether you’re a social butterfly or not, having at least one person to lean on when times get tough is crucial. Even if they don’t have the answers to your problems, simply having them around can work wonders for your mood. It’s important to remember that in the winter when going out and socializing may not seem like a fun idea. Thankfully, the beauty of modern technology is that it’s so easy to keep in contact with others, so even if you live alone, you don’t have to be lonely in the winter.

We can’t change the drop in temperature and fewer daylight hours that are so often associated with winter. However, with these suggestions, we can hopefully help you to cope better when those colder months come around.

The post 7 Ways to Care for Your Mental Health in the Winter appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/7-ways-to-care-for-your-mental-health-in-the-winter/feed/ 0
Early Ambulatory Treatment for COVID-19 https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/early-ambulatory-treatment-for-covid-19-why-isnt-the-media-talking-about-it-if-its-available-and-can-save-lives/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/early-ambulatory-treatment-for-covid-19-why-isnt-the-media-talking-about-it-if-its-available-and-can-save-lives/#respond Tue, 10 Nov 2020 16:23:59 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20907   What is Early Ambulatory Treatment for COVID-19: The simple answer is that it’s a treatment plan and medication you can take, right when you are diagnosed or show symptoms of COVID-19 with the goal of avoiding more severe symptoms or hospitalizations. Some people are confused by the use of the word “ambulatory” here. It […]

The post Early Ambulatory Treatment for COVID-19 appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
Early Ambulatory Treatment for COVID-19

 

What is Early Ambulatory Treatment for COVID-19: The simple answer is that it’s a treatment plan and medication you can take, right when you are diagnosed or show symptoms of COVID-19 with the goal of avoiding more severe symptoms or hospitalizations. Some people are confused by the use of the word “ambulatory” here. It does not mean get up and move in this case. Ambulatory refers to “at home.” So this blog is about early at-home treatment.

While most people are focused on vaccines, face masks and lockdowns, some doctors are trying to get people to focus on, or at least consider, early ambulatory treatment for COVID-19. This means care that is initiated right when a person is diagnosed or starts to show symptoms, while he/she is still at home or self-isolating, and well before a person has to go to the hospital. These doctors believe early ambulatory treatment would significantly reduce hospitalizations and deaths. I am currently on an email distribution list with doctors and public health experts from all around the world who are trying to spread the word about early ambulatory care. Unfortunately, many of them have been censored or are not being “heard” by the “pandemic decision makers.”  They are not getting much coverage in the media, and the question is why not?  I want to stress that many of the doctors asking us to strongly consider early ambulatory care are practicing physicians and top epidemiologists at renowned academic institutions. Many are highly published in traditional medical journals. They aren’t the “Cazy Essential Oils Lady” spreading misinformation. One would think that, in a time of great urgency, physician voices would be amplified, because clinical judgement and experience is incredibly valuable when it comes to learning more about COVID-19 and addressing it. But Big Tech clearly sees things differently than me.

In  my latest podcast, I chat with Dr. Peter McCullough, an internist, cardiologist and epidemiologist who authored a paper on early ambulatory care for COVID-19 that included a protocol for early treatment. The protocol lists specific drugs to use and when to use them. That protocol has since been updated, and with Dr. McCullough’s permission, I’ve posted it below. ( It’s copyrighted, so please do not share without obtaining permission.) In the podcast, Dr. McCullough discusses the rationale behind this protocol, randomized controlled trials and clinical experience, what other countries are doing for early ambulatory treatment ( things that the US is currently not doing), and why the media is not touching early ambulatory care, since he believes it could save many lives.

Dr. McCullough is the Vice Chief of Internal Medicine at Baylor University Medical Center in Dallas, Tx and a consulting cardiologist. He is a Principal Faculty in internal medicine for the Texas A&M University Health Sciences, has over 1000 publications and over 500 citations in the National Library of Medicine. I’ve linked to his full bio in the podcast description.

On a personal note, I recently became more interested in early ambulatory treatment for COVID-19  because we had a scare in my family. My dad and mom own a thriving veterinary hospital. They implemented several public health measures in order to remain open, and everything was going smoothly until a worker tested positive for COVID-19. Then more workers tested positive. My parents closed the hospital for 2 weeks for the safety of the staff that wasn’t infected and the clients. My dad also had to get tested, which really concerned me. He’s 72, an age that falls in the “high risk” category. He got tested, and while we waited for results, I started digging into early ambulatory care, which is how I stumbled across Dr. McCullough’s paper. By the way, my dad tested negative and never got the virus and, boy, were we relieved. I was also rather surprised he didn’t get it. He, like me, has Type O blood, and there’s been some evidence that suggests those with Type O blood are less prone to infection or have less severe infections. I DO have a doctor lined up to come on Causes or Cures to talk about this.

I also think we should consider early ambulatory treatment for COVID-19, because there is NO guarantee that a vaccine will be effective. I know Pfizer just released some positive news, but it’s still far too early to count on a vaccine. In a subsequent blog, I will write my concerns about betting all our money on a vaccine. Till then, please listen to the podcast and study the protocol below. Talk about it, ask questions, ask your doctor about the protocol. Keep in mind that this is information, not medical advice. It’s information that we shouldn’t censor or fear. It’s information coming from practicing doctors and, at the least, information that you have a right to know is out there, and information that we should seriously consider.

To listen to the Causes or Cures podcast with Dr. Mc Cullough, click here. 

Dr. McCullough’s Protocol for Early Ambulatory Treatment for COVID-19: 

Early Ambulatory treatment for COVID-19

If you have any questions, feel free to write me: erin@bloomingwellness.com

You can also find me on Instagram here or Facebook here.

 

Be sure to check out some of the articles/podcast episodes related to COVID-19:

When to Wear a Face Mask

The Relationship between Obesity and COVID-19

 

 

 

The post Early Ambulatory Treatment for COVID-19 appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/early-ambulatory-treatment-for-covid-19-why-isnt-the-media-talking-about-it-if-its-available-and-can-save-lives/feed/ 0
The Opioid Epidemic is Still Here https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/the-opioid-epidemic-is-still-here-and-getting-much-worse/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/the-opioid-epidemic-is-still-here-and-getting-much-worse/#respond Fri, 06 Nov 2020 19:38:36 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20902 Prior to the current pandemic, the news cycle was dominated by the opioid epidemic, a beast that has taken the lives of many people from all walks of life. Recently, the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, plead guilty to federal criminal charges related to the marketing and selling of opioids. Universities, like […]

The post The Opioid Epidemic is Still Here appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
The Opioid Epidemic

Prior to the current pandemic, the news cycle was dominated by the opioid epidemic, a beast that has taken the lives of many people from all walks of life. Recently, the Sackler family’s Purdue Pharma, the maker of Oxycontin, plead guilty to federal criminal charges related to the marketing and selling of opioids. Universities, like NYU, just announced that they are removing the Sackler family name from their campuses. Many other drug companies face serious legal issues. Prior to COVID-19, the opioid crisis was the top public health issue that everyone was talking about. National, state and local governments were desperate to find ways to address it. It was a top election issue in 2016. Since COVID-19, the opioid epidemic has been removed from the spotlight…, but it has not gone away. In fact, it’s gotten significantly worse. We just aren’t talking about it as much. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, it makes me wonder: How bad is the opioid epidemic going to get?

In this episode of my Causes or Cures podcast, I chat with Dr. John Kelly about the current state of the opioid epidemic. Dr. Kelly will identify who is getting hit the hardest, why the epidemic is getting worse, overdose deaths, why stress and isolation affect a person struggling with opioids more than a person who is not, and if someone is in recovery, when is the most critical time period he or she is most likely to relapse. ( I found the latter part the most interesting. It can be especially helpful if you or someone you know is struggling with opiods.) He will also discuss changes to treatment, telemedicine, digital Apps and what he thinks is the best path forward for putting a major dent in this public health crisis.

Dr. Kelly is a Professor of Psychiatry in Addiction Medicine at Harvard Medical School. He is the Founder and Director of the Recovery Research Institute at the Massachusetts General Hospital, the Associate Director of the Center for Addiction Medicine, and the Program Director of the Addiction Recovery Management Service. He is a former President of the American Psychological Association’s Society of Addiction Psychology and has served as a consultant to U.S. federal agencies and non-federal institutions, as well as foreign governments and the United Nations. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, reviews, chapters and books in the field of addiction medicine. Finally, he was the author on the U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Alcohol, Drugs, and Health.

 

To listen to this episode, please click here

Thanks guys, and always, I appreciate the shares!

 

Other things to read:

Public Health Fuel for the Anti-Vax Fire

The Metaphor of Medicare for All

 

 

The post The Opioid Epidemic is Still Here appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/11/the-opioid-epidemic-is-still-here-and-getting-much-worse/feed/ 0
The Scientific Evidence for the Shroud of Turin: With Barrie Schwortz https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/the-scientific-evidence-for-the-shroud-of-turin-with-barrie-schwortz/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/the-scientific-evidence-for-the-shroud-of-turin-with-barrie-schwortz/#comments Tue, 20 Oct 2020 14:26:43 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20864 What is the scientific evidence for The Shroud of Turin, as it stands, in 2020? To help me determine this, I’m excited to say that I interviewed Barrie Schwortz on a recent Causes or Cures podcast.  Who is Barrie? Barrie was the Official Documenting Photographer for the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), the team […]

The post The Scientific Evidence for the Shroud of Turin: With Barrie Schwortz appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
Scientific Evidence for The Shroud of Turin

What is the scientific evidence for The Shroud of Turin, as it stands, in 2020?

To help me determine this, I’m excited to say that I interviewed Barrie Schwortz on a recent Causes or Cures podcast.  Who is Barrie?

Barrie was the Official Documenting Photographer for the Shroud of Turin Research Project (STURP), the team that conducted the first in-depth scientific examination of the Shroud in 1978. Today, he plays an influential role in Shroud research and education as the editor and founder of the internationally recognized Shroud of Turin Website, the oldest, largest and most extensive Shroud resource on the Internet, with more than fifteen million visitors from over 160 countries. In 2009 he founded the Shroud of Turin Education and Research Association, Inc. (STERA, Inc.), a non-profit  corporation, to which he donated the website and his extensive Shroud photographic collection, as well as many other important Shroud resources, in order to preserve and maintain these materials and make them available for future research and study. He currently serves as the President of STERA, Inc.

Before you listen to the podcast, I want to make a few points. I guess my first point should be defining what The Shroud of Turin is, because not everyone knows. The Shroud of Turin is a cloth that has an image of a man ( a negative image) that some people believe was the burial shroud of Jesus of Nazareth. Of course, others do not believe that. To this day, no one can explain how the image was created. A group of researchers attempted to date the Shroud using Carbon-14 Dating in 1988 and determined that it was from the Middle Ages. As Barrie will explain in the podcast, the result of that particular Carbon-14 Dating is strongly disputed, and for good reasons.

My second point: Barrie is Jewish. he is not Christian (not Catholic), so he doesn’t have a religious bias about The Shroud of Turin. In fact, he originally didn’t want the gig as Official Photographer, because he had no interest in religious matters. Fast forward to now, and he believes The Shroud is authentic, but he believes it is authentic for scientific reasons, not reasons rooted in faith or religion.

Third point: The scientific evidence for The Shroud of Turin was discovered or collected by scientists of all religious affiliations, including scientists who identify as Atheists. It’s important to internalize that, because tons of people immediately “turn off” exploring the evidence base for The Shroud because of its undeniable religious significance. One can explore the mystery of the Shroud by only focussing on the science. Trust me, even from that perspective it is a mind-boggling mystery.

Fourth point: The Shroud is not a painting. That has been proven. When I posted this on Facebook, a few people wrote things like, “It’s a fake! It’s a painting!” That is incorrect. We know it’s not a painting.

Fifth point: Barrie posts research articles that both support the authenticy of The Shroud and articles that do not support its authenticity. He is very unbiased in his approach, which, I have to tell ya, is refreshing. He also lists books that either support or don’t support its authenticity, and you can visit his website and see for yourself.

Okay…that’s it. I’ve received some harsh criticism on my Facebook page for merely posting this interview…which is…odd?  To me, the Shroud is fascinating because it’s a scientific mystery. No one has been able to explain how it happened, even after all these years. That’s pretty darn cool.

That said, take a listen to the podcast and decide for yourself: Is the scientific evidence for The Shroud of Turin strong? Or is it weak? What do YOU think it is? 😉

 

Click here to listen: The Shroud of Turin with Barrie Schwortz 

 

Other podcast topics with featured experts:

 

The Truth about Alkaline Water

Ozone Therapy for the Coronavirus? HUH?

How Many Deaths did COVID-19 Cause? A Quick Lesson on Causation 

The post The Scientific Evidence for the Shroud of Turin: With Barrie Schwortz appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/the-scientific-evidence-for-the-shroud-of-turin-with-barrie-schwortz/feed/ 1
7 Daily Practices to Improve Your Health From Home https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/7-daily-practices-to-improve-your-health-from-home/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/7-daily-practices-to-improve-your-health-from-home/#respond Sun, 18 Oct 2020 17:20:27 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20861 By: Shallow Wen Not medically reviewed by Erin Stair, MD, MPH   One of the most precious things in life is one’s health which should be safeguarded at all costs. This is why investing in your health and wellness is necessary. With good health, you’ll be able to go about your day and accomplish your […]

The post 7 Daily Practices to Improve Your Health From Home appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
By: Shallow Wen

Not medically reviewed by Erin Stair, MD, MPH

 

One of the most precious things in life is one’s health which should be safeguarded at all costs. This is why investing in your health and wellness is necessary. With good health, you’ll be able to go about your day and accomplish your goals. Good health should not be taken for granted but cherished and maintained. To improve your health, there are a few things you need to do. These things include;

Exercising

Any kind of movement for your body is necessary. The benefits of exercising are endless which makes it an important aspect of your life. With exercising, you don’t have to go all out and get a gym membership or engage in intense workouts.

You can take a walk in your neighborhood, go for a run, or do some yoga. Whatever you do will have a great impact on your health. Exercising will not only improve your health but also boost your mood. This is because when you exercise, your body releases feel-good hormones known as endorphins. These hormones trigger a positive feeling in the body resulting in a mood boost.

Meditate

Meditation is a necessary activity, especially when trying to work on your mental health. It will help you calm your mind and reduce any stress or depression. It does this by allowing you to take control of your mind, refocus, and understand that you have the power over what you choose to focus on. Meditation is something that can be learned with patience and consistent practice. With time you’ll learn to sit in silence and quiet your thoughts to be able to focus on your breath. You can start by following guided meditations where you are told what to do then graduate to doing it by yourself. You should however note that meditation doesn’t have to be perfect. Do your best every day and the benefits will be evident. 

Maintain Hygiene

Hygiene plays a huge role in how healthy you are. To be in great shape and health, you need to maintain high standards of hygiene. This is because, with good hygiene, germs and other diseases will have no breeding ground. Hygiene should be practiced in all areas of your life. From your house, the food you eat, and to your body. Doing this will help you rest easy knowing that you are giving it your best.  Also, invest in hand sanitizers that you and your family can use. You could also give some to your colleagues and friends to promote the same lifestyle among your closest circle. To get the best sanitizers in the market, check out hisomedical.com. Here you can easily place your order online and get a discount for bulk purchases.

 

Get Enough Sleep

Whether you have deadlines to meet or not you should never compromise on your sleep. You need to remember that sleep is the only thing that allows your body to fully recover from the hard-working day it has had.  If you don’t keep up with your sleep you could expose yourself to the risk of getting ill. To avoid this, develop a routine that will help you relax and unwind as you prepare to sleep. Make sure to have at least six to eight hours of undisturbed shut-eye every single night. This will help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready to conquer the following day’s tasks with a fresh mind. 

Eat Right

Swapping out your junk food for healthier substitutes will not be an easy task. However, it will be worth it, given that it will contribute immensely to improving your health. Embrace having a balanced diet with every single meal you partake. This will help provide your body with all the necessary minerals and vitamins required. As you focus on eating healthy, also remember to eat in the right quantity. You need to keep an eye on your portions to ensure that you don’t overeat. If eating healthy is too demotivating for you, consider experimenting with new foods, spices, and different ways to cook them. Making this an interesting challenge will give you the motivation to keep going.

Schedule Your Preventative Health Screening

Having regular health screenings will impact your choices greatly. They are done to ensure that you are in good health and to identify health issues before its too late. If you find any problems, your doctor will be able to guide you on the next steps to ensure that you get ahead of the problem. However, if your tests are fine, then you can be sure that the healthy choices you are making are beneficial. You should continue to do more of those to stay in good health. 

Have a Healthy Skin Care Routine

Your skin is the largest organ in your body and also the most important one. This is because it provides a protective barrier for your internal organs. Taking care of your skin is therefore a very crucial part of improving your health.  Make sure that you develop a routine where you cleanse, tone, and moisturize daily to keep your skin supple. You should also aim to reduce sun exposure as much as you can. If you have to go out be sure to wear your sunscreen to keep your skin protected from the harmful UV rays. 

Conclusion

Improving your health is paramount and can easily be done provided you take the necessary steps. Take a few minutes to work out or go for a walk, make sure to eat right, maintain great hygiene, and keep tabs on your progress. 

 

The post 7 Daily Practices to Improve Your Health From Home appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/7-daily-practices-to-improve-your-health-from-home/feed/ 0
A Natural Way to Reduce Anxiety: Binaural Acoustics https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/natural-way-to-reduce-anxiety-and-stress-customized-binaural-acoustics/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/natural-way-to-reduce-anxiety-and-stress-customized-binaural-acoustics/#comments Tue, 13 Oct 2020 00:35:30 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20821   By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH I get anxious. Do you? A natural way to reduce stress and anxiety is to listen to binaural acoustics that are arrranged in a specific sequence. They are my go-to when I feel anxious or am having difficulty falling or staying asleep. I also use them when I have […]

The post A Natural Way to Reduce Anxiety: Binaural Acoustics appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
A Natural Way to Reduce Anxiety

 

By: Erin Stair, MD, MPH

I get anxious. Do you? A natural way to reduce stress and anxiety is to listen to binaural acoustics that are arrranged in a specific sequence. They are my go-to when I feel anxious or am having difficulty falling or staying asleep. I also use them when I have premenstrual cramps, since binaural acoustics at specific frequencies have been shown to be helpful for pain. Sometimes I feel anxious when I’m reminded of a traumatic experience in my past. What do I do? Listen to binaural acoustics. The thing I love MOST about binaural acoustics is that they require little to no effort. I don’t have to read anything, I don’t have to engage anything. I can just put on my headphones and listen, which is nice, because sometimes when I’m really anxious, I don’t have the energy to focus or concentrate on anything. I love them so much that I started creating my own arrangements, and I even create customized ones for the folks I work with one-on-one.

Before I mention the studies showing that binaural acoustics, like our ZENTones ,can significantly reduce stress, daytime anxiety and nightime anxiety, I want to explain what a binaural beat is. You can either read below or watch my Instagram video.

Binaural beats are normally occurring sounds that are created when two different and pure tones are simultaneously presented to each ear. Binaural beats were first discovered by Heinrich Dove in 1839 and described in his book Repertorium der Physik. Years later, Dove’s work was supplemented by that of Dr. Gerald Oster who thought binaural beats were a great neurological research tool that could be helpful for diagnosing a variety of neurological disorders. Oster’s work was published in Scientific American in 1973 in an article called, “Auditory Beats in the Brain.” In that article, he talked about how one’s ability to detect binaural beats could be impacted by hormonal fluctuations or even disease states, such as Parkinsons.

Auditory stimulation via binaural beats is considered noninvasive and safe. It’s a natural way to reduce anxiety. However, more research is needed in this area, especially for specifying the most beneficial protocols, so it is always best for anyone considering using binaural beats to first have a discussion with his or her physician. In order to detect binaural beats, an individual needs to wear headphones to hear two PURE tones with different frequencies. Pure tones rarely happen in nature, which is why binaural beats are produced mechanically. The two tones heard together will form an integrated auditory signal that has a frequency equal to the difference in frequency between the tones. For example, if 120 Hz are played in the left ear and 125 Hz are played in the right ear, the perceived frequency of the signal will be 5 Hz. This composite sound is called a binaural beat. The brain will perceive the binaural beat even though the beat does not exist in physical space. How cool is that?!?  For this reason, binaural beats are sometimes called “phantom beats.”

That said, and something we take into account with ZENTones, is that the sequence in which the sounds are presented seems to matter. Recently, several scientists conducting studies involving auditory stimulation and binaural beats have suggested that in-phase stimulation is the most effective method of delivery. In-phase stimulation consists of synchronizing the external auditory stimuli with the brain: in order to be most effective, the auditory stimulation should create an external frequency that is the same as the brain’s current internal rhythm. In metaphorical terms, in-phase stimulation is like pushing a swing in the direction it is already going rather than pushing it in the opposite direction.

Theoretically, the binaural beats will entrain an individual’s brain to an external rhythm. “Brainwave entrainment” is defined as changing the brain’s current frequency to a desired frequency via external auditory stimulation with beats played at the desired frequency. However, that is just a theory, and the exact mechanism for how binaural beats are effective remains mysterious. Most people agree that the composit beat is formed by the superior olivary nucleus in the brain center. The brain has five key brainwaves. Delta brainwaves have the slowest frequency ( 1-4 Hz) and dominate during sleep. Theta brainwaves have a frequency of 4-8 Hz and are associated with decelerating brain activity and enhanced creativity. Alpha brainwaves have a frequency of 8-13 Hz and are associated with relaxed wakefulness. Beta waves with a frequency of 16-24 Hz are associated with alertness, concentration, attention, and memory. Gamma waves have a frequency of 25-100 Hz and are associated with states of heightened meaning and sensitivity. ( Some people use Gamma waves for “out of body” experiences. Who knows?)

I have created and used my own binaural arrangements for years. I’m very sensitive to sounds, even sounds some folks would consider “sound therapy”, and went on a search for something that was appealing, safe and easy. I also wanted to make sure the sounds were scientifically-crafted, so I knew what I was getting, or listening to. Another great thing about binaural sound arrangements is that they work equally well for the old as they do for the young. The hearing loss that accompanies old age doesn’t significantly affect one’s ability to detect binaural beats. That, alone, opens the door for a wide array of therapeutic uses in the older population. For example, it’s shown that older people who take prescription medication for sleep are at a higher risk of falling due to the side effects. Imagine if they tried listening to binaural acoustics instead? They have no long-term side effects and certainly don’t increase one’s risk of falls.

The idea of binaural beats has been around a long time, and there are several studies showing that they can be helpful for a person’s wellbeing and produce a desired mental state. There are also studies showing that they don’t work better than placebo, and I think a lot of this discrepancy has to do with the way the tone are arranged, what frequencies are used and how long someone listens to them. It’s hard to find specific answers for these questions, because binaural beats don’t get a lot of funding for research. However, from what I’ve read and what I’ve experienced, one should at least listen for 20 minutes at a time.

Anxiety is a huge issue in our society, whether it’s officially diagnosed or not. No matter the extent, we all have anxious moments that can derail us and make us less productive. Because of this, and because folks are worried about side effects from medications, people are looking for natural ways to reduce anxiety. I’m most excited about the studies showing that binaural arrangements are helpful for anxiety, because they show that they are helpful for events known to produce extremely high states of anxiety, such as waiting for surgery. My thinking is that if they help in those very high states of anxiety, they’d probably be effective for lower states too. Furthermore, they are “easy” to implement. All a person has to do is listen! As someone who consults on digital health Apps, including ones for anxiety, I can tell you that the biggest issue we run into is lack of adherence. A person who has a lot of anxiety, whether a child or adult, often has a dampened ability to concentrate or stick with a program that requires a lot of effort. Binaural beats only require you to put on headphones and listen. I can’t emphasize how important that is.

I’m going to discuss a few studies in which binaural arrangements were effective for anxiety and point out things that I think are important.

A randomized controlled trial tested the effectiveness of  music with binaural beats, music without them and a control measure in a group of people about to undergo eye surgery. The researchers measured anxiety subjectively ( with a verified survey) but also measured physiological responses, including high blood pressure and increased heart beat. So we’re clear, the physiological measures make the study stronger. Results showed that both the music with and without binaural beats decreased subjective feelings of anxiety and blood pressure. However, the music with binaural beats showed a significant decrease in heart rate compared to the music without. A randomized controlled trial was also conducted on patients undergoing bronchoscopies. Patients who listened to binaural arrangements had signficantly less anxiety than those who listened to music without binaural beats. The binaural arrangement group also had lower blood pressure readings. Another randomized controlled showed that listening to binaural beats significantly reduced anxiety associated with same-day surgeries when compared to sounds without binaural beats.

A really interesting study worth mentioning is one involving kids who were about to undergo surgery. While not specifically anxiety, the study showed that listening to binaural arrangements significantly reduced the amount of sedation medication they needed. Why is this important? Because sedation medication in kids has been linked to neuroapoptosis, essentially the destruction of neurons.

Another incredibly high-anxiety state? Cesarean sections. A randomized controlled trial was conducted on women undergoing elective cesarean sections. Some women listened to a binaural arrangement and others listened to music without binaural beats. The women who listened to the binaural arrangement had significantly less anxiety.

This study is worth mentioning, because if you’re like me, you exercise to help reduce stress and boost your mood. I started listening to our Stress Relief ZENTones after exercising once I read this study and ones like it. The study shows that if you listen to binaural arrangements with theta frequencies after you exercise, it significantly boosts the response of the parasympathetic nervous system. That means that it enhances your body’s relaxation response and helps calm down amped-up nerves. What do I do? When I’m finished doing cardio or a resistance workout, I lie down on the floor or grass, put on my ZENBand, cover my eyes, and listen to our theta frequencies. I listen with the ZENBand because there is some evidence to suggest that the benefits of binaural beats are enhanced in the dark, and I can cover my eyes with the ZENBand to help keep out ambient light.

In conclusion, I highly recommend trying binaural arrangements as a natural way to reduce anxiety or stress. If you have any questions about safety, protocols, what frequencies are best for what, or if you want a customized session, please write me. I’m busy, but I’ll write back. 🙂 Not only do I create individual customized programs, but I keep up-to-date on the latest research. And it’s fascinating!!! While this blog focusses on binaural arrangements for anxiety, I plan on covering sleep and chronic pain in the near future…and even some crazier stuff. 😉 If you’re interested, I already wrote a blog on how binaural beats at a certain frequency can improve memory. Students love that one.

If you want to try ZENTones, please do. If you order them, they instantly arrive in your email. I will also send a follow-up email with access to our web-based App. Again, you can listen to them with your own headphones, but if your ears or head start to hurt after a while from the hardness of headphones/earbuds, you can try a ZENBand, which uses soft pillow cushions as speakers. Please note that the ZENBands are mostly designed for women, but I am working on larger sizes for men and smaller sizes for kids. That said, you can stretch or fold them to make them fit. AND…when you visit my ZENBand page, you’ll get to read my spiel on why you should minimize your use of wireless headphones and stick with wired, especially if you plan on listening to things for long durations of time.

Thanks for reading, guys. I hope you found this informative. Also, don’t forget to check out my health podcast, Causes or Cures! And if you ever have any recommendations for guests or topics, just shoot me a message. I KNOW some of the guests are controversial, but sending me “murder threats” for the face mask podcast is really uncool.

If you are interested in a short, funny read, I would LOVE for you guys to read Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling.

Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling

Or…if you like darker, faster-paced and TRUE stories, please read Manic Kingdom.   🙂

Manic Kingdom by Dr. Erin Stair

And if you are so inclined, here is my Instagram and here is my Facebook.

Warmly,

Erin xo

The post A Natural Way to Reduce Anxiety: Binaural Acoustics appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/natural-way-to-reduce-anxiety-and-stress-customized-binaural-acoustics/feed/ 2
My Long First Date with Death https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/my-long-first-date-with-death/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/my-long-first-date-with-death/#comments Sat, 10 Oct 2020 20:07:34 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20812   My Long First Date with Death By: Erin Stair MD, MPH Still crusty-eyed, I sluggishly walk into the New York City hospital’s musty surgical on-call room. It’s 6 AM and still dark out. To lighten the mood, I start joking with the other medical students, identically dressed in loose-fitting, light-blue scrubs. All of us would […]

The post My Long First Date with Death appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
My Long First Date with Death

 

My Long First Date with Death

By: Erin Stair MD, MPH

Still crusty-eyed, I sluggishly walk into the New York City hospital’s musty surgical on-call room.

It’s 6 AM and still dark out. To lighten the mood, I start joking with the other medical students, identically dressed in loose-fitting, light-blue scrubs. All of us would rather be somewhere else, but we are obedient, competitive and waiting for our chief resident to arrive and give us orders.

I dread being on-call, which is every fourth night for twenty-four hours straight. I hate it, because the run-down hospital offers us nowhere to sleep, and when I don’t sleep, I’m miserable and can’t think right. To prevent insomnia-induced insanity, I pull a mattress off one of the transport beds parked in the hallway and lug it into the freezing cold dialysis waiting room so I can rest, usually between the relatively calm hours of 2 AM and 5 AM. At 5 AM, I wake up, put the mattress back where I found it and use a computer to see if my patients’ blood labs were updated. If no blood was drawn, I’m forced to nag the tired nurses until it is. I would draw blood myself, but students aren’t allowed to draw blood. I unwillingly harass the nurses, because otherwise the residents scream at me for blood not being drawn and labs not being updated. The nurses usually ignore me or snap at me for constantly inquiring about blood. The whole ordeal is a humiliating, aggravating lesson in humanity, somehow filed under medical education.

Our surgical chief, Samir, an obese, tired-looking Indian guy shuffles through the door. He stinks of cigarettes and is wolfishly eating a doughnut. The red jelly oozing out of his powdery pastry makes me think of the massive bleeding back ulcer I saw yesterday. That vision and the smell of cigarette smoke makes me nauseous. Samir smokes whenever he catches a break. He’ll lean against the back wall of the hospital, out of view from most of the patients, and smoke his hospital stress away. Most of the surgical residents smoke, maybe to stay awake or maybe to control their nerves. Probably both.

He plops down at the head of the table, and his heaviness makes the room shake. The rest of us, about fourteen students, nervously sit around him with pen and paper in hand. This is the point where we’ll be assigned our patients to monitor for the next twenty-four hours.

The phone rings. Samir answers it. His face molds into a serious expression. He hangs up, looks at me and says, “Erin. You’re only going to have one patient today. He’s a VIP, so you need to do a really good job. Biggus is his name. He’s in the ICU. Go up there now.”

I hear the other students anxiously muttering to each other as I scurry out of the room and take the stairs two floors up to the ICU. A surgical attending physician, Dr. Mir, a thin, smart, Indian guy with thick glasses, greets me near the nurses’ station.

“You’re here for Biggus?” he asks impatiently.

“Yes,” I answer.

“Okay, great,” he says then slides a little closer to me till the edge of his baggy scrubs are touching mine. “You’re going to be here for a long time. Tell me, have you ever watched someone die before?”

His question catches me off-guard. I think for a moment. I’ve seen people near-death or dead. I’ve been to a lot of wakes. I assisted on many autopsies when I did a pathology rotation, but I never saw someone actually die.

“No,” I finally answer with slight trepidation in my voice. Death frightens me. I feel too young, energetic and even narcissistic for Death, especially a lot of Death all at once. It’s sad and permanent and makes everything seem meaningless. Perhaps everything is meaningless, but I need to ignore that so I don’t get depressed and off myself. I always get antsy studying terminal illnesses and want to slam my books shut. I want to sprint out of nursing homes, which feel like waiting rooms for Death. I always skip over the obituaries section in the newspaper. Even though I grew up next to a cemetery and watched lots of dead strangers in polished, flower-covered coffins get lowered in the ground, Death remains a phobia for me.

“Okay. That’s okay. It’s a process and can take a while. His family will probably be around his bed most of the time. He’s unconscious now and four days post-op for a colectomy. He was diagnosed with colon cancer about a month ago. Turns out the cancer has spread. The cancer landed him in the ICU as well as a possible infection post-op. It was a lot further along than we originally expected. Now, I don’t expect him to get out of this, but his wife insists that we try anything and everything to keep him alive. Here’s where you come in. I need you to monitor his ins and outs. He’s already not making much urine. If you notice anything different about his breathing or if his blood pressure drops too low, you need to let us know right away. Okay?”

He leans in closer to me and slowly, somewhat threateningly says, “He’s a personal friend of the president of the hospital. A VIP. So, don’t let us down.”

My nerves are guns firing bullets through my bloodstream, but I force myself to nod with an aura of feigned confidence. My instinct is to bolt- out the door, down the street, to the subway station and never come back. I hate Death. Pick another student for this gig. I have a Death phobia and yet they are forcing me to sit with it for the next 24 hours. It’s like exposure therapy on steroids. At least I won’t have to nag a bunch of nurses in the AM to draw blood- a small silver lining.

Mir turns and motions me to follow him toward ICU Room 2. He pulls back the faded blue curtain, and I try not to gasp.

A fifty-something, yellowish, dry-skinned man with a gaping mouth is lying unconscious on the hospital bed. One of his crusty eyes is closed and the other is half-way open. A green tube stretches from the ventilator behind his bed and into his throat. Every few seconds his upper body jerks up and forward, as if he has the hiccups, and I don’t know if that’s the ventilator’s doing, his heart’s, or something else. There are six IV bags hanging around his bed, which is the largest number I’ve ever seen used on a patient. The man looks trapped in a maze of tubes. My eyes carefully trace the line from each bag to his body, so I know what is going in where. A urine bag, which contains only a trace of brown-stained pee, hangs at the side of the bed. A monitor on the opposite side of his bed displays his vital signs. So far, his breathing rate is regular, no doubt due to the ventilator, his heart rate is steady, and his blood pressure is fairly normal at 115/70. Still, the room looks and smells like Death. He isn’t going to make it.

Sitting in a brown chair next to Biggus’ head is an attractive, strawberry-blonde, older white woman. Dark circles outline her distraught green eyes. I peg her for his wife. Next to her is a well-dressed woman who appears slightly younger with the same strawberry-blonde hair. Probably a sister.

“Mrs. Biggus?” Dr. Mir asks quietly as he walks behind her chair and gently puts a hand on her shoulder. “This is Erin. She’s going to stay here all day and monitor your husband for us. If anything looks strange or if there’s any changes, she’ll immediately grab one of us. She’s one of our best, so don’t worry.”

One of our best? He must not have witnessed my lack of surgical knot tying and suture skills in the OR yet.

Mrs. Biggus looks at me and politely attempts a smile. “Thank you, Erin. This is my sister, Bonnie.

We’ll be staying here throughout the day,” she says with an Australian accent. I thought she’d have a New York accent. The Australian one is refreshing and sounds less like Death than the New York one.

I look at her sympathetically and say, “No problem. I’ll be sitting over there in the corner. If you have any questions or need anything, just ask.”

Dr. Mir speaks to Mrs. Biggus and her sister for a few more minutes. As he’s leaving, he says, “Don’t lose hope just yet. I have seen people come out of this state, and right now his vital signs are stable. Let’s just see how he progresses through the day.”

It’s false hope. Everyone in the room knows it but needs it.

I get comfortable in the chair and browse through my Board review book. Every now and then, I’ll glance up at the monitor or at Mrs. Biggus, who’s staring lovingly at her husband’s jaundiced, cracked face and rubbing his motionless limp hand. It makes me want to curl up in the chair and disappear. I’m assigned to be in the room, but I’m an intruder. This is her and her husband’s moment. Most likely their last. I shouldn’t be here.

A half hour passes. It’s nearly 11:30 AM. Mr. Biggus looks exactly the same. Either Mrs. Biggus or her sister’s stomach rumbles. I pretend not to hear it and keep my head down in my book.

At noon, Mrs. Biggus breaks the silence. “Erin, my sister and I were going to grab something to eat from across the street. Would you like anything? We’ll be back within the hour. Also, I’m expecting my son to come. I’m not sure what time, but just wanted to let you know.”

“Oh, thank you for offering, but I’m fine,” I say. Her husband is almost dead. I’m not asking her for a sandwich.

They walk out of the room. I stand up, stretch, and tiptoe to the opposite side of the bed to check the urine bag. The amount of pee is the same. He isn’t making urine. One of the ICU nurses, a very sweet and competent Filipina girl, rushes in and swiftly switches out one of the IV bags. I respect the ICU nurses, because they know how to do their job very well. She smiles at me and says, “You poor thing. You’re in here all day?”

I nod.

“That’s awful. But, here,” she says and hands me a bottle of eye drops. “His eyes will start to get really dry. Just put a few drops in them from time to time.”

I take the eye drops and awkwardly smile. Before sitting back down, I feel Mr. Biggus’ hands. They are burning. The surgeon mentioned Biggus has an infection, so maybe he’s running a fever. I slowly lift up the white hospital sheet to peak at his lower legs. They aren’t too swollen, so that makes me feel okay about his current heart function. I scan his body up to his lower abdomen, where a colostomy bag rests. It’s feces free. No pee. No poo. Things are shutting down.

It’s 1 PM by the time Mrs. Biggus and her sister return. The sister smiles and hands me a paper bag. Inside are a sandwich and a Coke.

“Oh, really. You shouldn’t have,” I say.

“No, no. This is a tough job for you too. Please enjoy it,” she answers.

I’m starving, so I accept the bag while the two women sit down in the same spots as this morning. Mrs. Biggus raises herself off the seat, leans over the bed, smiles at her husband and says, “John… John, we’re back. Sorry we left you for a bit,” she whispers, kisses him on his forehead and stares at his lifeless face before sinking back down into her chair.

I try to make as little noise as possible opening the brown paper bag, but it’s useless. Paper bags are obnoxious and don’t go well with Death. I reach inside, grab the sandwich, unwrap it and take a nibble.

“I can’t believe just last week he was outside mowing the lawn and watering the garden. He always loved doing yard work this time of year,” Mrs. Biggus says to no one in particular.

“He sure did. I remember when you visited me in Australia and called home. He didn’t even take the call ‘cause he was outside fiddling around with something in the yard,” her sister responds. They both laugh.

I chew my sandwich slowly and swallow even slower, to the point where it feels like it’s stuck in my throat. Then I wrap the rest of it up and put it in the bag. I can’t eat a sandwich. I, my sandwich, the loud paper bag shouldn’t be here. This is their moment. I feel like a fly on the wall begging to be swatted.

A beeping noise distracts me from my thoughts. It’s the monitor. His blood pressure drops to 95 over 65. I stare at the numbers for a few seconds. Then his pressure rises to 120/80. Then back down to 90 over 60. The monitor beeps periodically. Finally his pressure hits 110/72 and seems to steady there.

 “What does that beeping mean, Erin? Is everything okay?” Mrs. Biggus asks me.

I’m really not sure. I’m not familiar with the ways of Death.

“It’s just the monitor,” I announce with a little too much confidence. “But his pressure seems stable now.”

I secretly wish I am the expert I sound like. Mrs. Biggus nods and hangs her head. I lean back in my chair and begin reading again. Mr. Biggus continues dying.

At around 4 pm, Dr. Mir pokes his head inside the room. “How is everything?” he asks while looking at me.

“Good,” I answer. I feel like a jerk for saying that, a response I often say when things aren’t good at all. “I mean, he’s stable for now.”

Dr. Mir nods and walks over to Mrs. Biggus and her sister. He makes small talk before Mrs. Biggus asks him how he thinks her husband is doing. Dr. Mir eyes Mr. Biggus analytically. Then he says, “He’s stable, for now. Let’s take it one step at a time and get him through the night.”

The false hope everyone needs. The three of them chat for a few minutes longer. Dr. Mir says goodbye and leaves the room.

Mrs. Biggus and her sister are chatty for the next two hours. They exchange funny stories about Mr. Biggus. I place my book face-down in my lap and begin listening. Sometimes I laugh out loud with them. It feels good to laugh.

A little after 7 PM, I excuse myself to the bathroom. I walk through the ICU to the dialysis waiting room, directly on the other side of the hallway, where one of the only clean bathrooms in the hospital exists. I sigh, knowing I won’t be catching a nap here tonight, when I notice two bouquets of flowers carelessly tossed on the plastic chairs. Many times before, I’ve seen tossed-away flowers in the chairs. I wasn’t sure where they were coming from, until one day I saw a hysterical Hispanic woman fly out of the ICU with a bunch of flowers in her hand. She was uncontrollably sobbing. Then she chucked the flowers on a chair in the waiting room and walked out. That’s when I learned the flowers were the innocent victims of human deaths. They were flowers that weren’t delivered in time. I felt sorry for the bouquets and started taking them home with me after work.

After my bathroom break, I go back to Biggus’ room. I stare at him for a good minute or two and decide he looks a little yellower than before. He’s still completely unresponsive. His hands might look more swollen, but it’s hard to tell. I peek at his ankles under the white sheet. Their circumference might have been slightly larger than earlier, but not by much. I glance at Mrs. Biggus and her sister. Their bodies and faces ooze anxiety. I feel sorry for them. Death seems to take a long time. For the spectators, it’s maddening. I remember a Hospice nurse once told me, “There’s something to be said for sudden death.” I thought she was ruthless. Now she sounds sagacious.

Mrs. and Mr. Biggus’ son arrives close to 8 pm. I’m shocked, inappropriately so, because he’s stunning. He has dark, thick brown hair, olive skin, and beautiful, bright green eyes. His complexion is flawless and his body is well-formed under a light green t-shirt and jeans. He’s young and beautiful and looks so out of place in a room dripping with Death. He glances my way, and I feel my body and mind simultaneously perk up. Attraction doesn’t stop for Death.

“Dylan!” Mrs. Biggus yelps as she jumps from her chair to hug her son. They embrace for a long time. Once they let go, he bends over and hugs his aunt, who’s still sitting in the chair. Then he turns to look at me. I smile and pray it isn’t too flirtatious. This is not the time nor the place.

“Dylan. This is Erin. She’s a medical student helping with daddy. Erin, Dylan just took the train down from Boston where he’s studying acting,” Mrs. Biggus calmly introduces me.

“Hi,” Dylan mumbles with a lethargic wave.

“Hi,” I reply. I notice I’m twirling my hair and instantly stop.

Dylan’s gorgeous head turns toward his dying father. His face puffs out and his eyes well with hopeless somberness. He grabs the hospital bed’s metal railing to steady himself while he stares at his dad’s thin, ominous face. I look down and away. I’m certain his dad was active and lively the last time he saw him. This scene has to be shocking and nearly unbearable for him. Everyone looks horrific on his or her deathbed. His father is no exception.

“Can he hear me?” Dylan stammers quietly.

“I’m not sure, honey. But say hello to him. I’m sure he knows you’re here,” Mrs. Biggus’ voice cracks.

“He probably can. Hearing is the last sense to go. I would definitely keep talking to him,” I encourage, hoping my interruption won’t be perceived as rude.

“Dylan, we were going to grab a snack to eat. We’ll leave you here, so you can have time alone with him,” Mrs. Biggus says through sniffles. Her sister gets up from the chair, stands behind Dylan and presses both her hands down on his shoulders. Then she kisses him on the cheek, before following Mrs. Biggus out of the room. I squirm uncomfortably in my chair, before deciding I could leave my duty station for a few minutes so Dylan can be alone with his dying dad.

“So you’re a student?” Dylan asks me. I glance at him, slightly alarmed. I’m certain he’d be talking to his father by now.

“I am,” I answer with a sympathetic smile. “I’m doing my surgery rotation right now.”

Dylan nodded then says, “That’s cool. I’m an actor up in Boston.”

“That’s great. I always wanted to try acting.”

“Why didn’t you?” he asks.

“Um… I don’t know really. I guess I still could.”

“Yeah, it’s fun. I enjoy it. I used to come to New York a lot for auditions. Not so much this semester, but next semester I should be down here more often. Do you live near the hospital?” he asks me.

I’m stunned by all of his questions. I feel like he’s flirting with me. The minute I run my hand through my hair tells me I’m flirting back. All of it feels so wrong. His dad is dying. He shouldn’t be flirting with me nor I him. Flirting and Death don’t go together.

“I live in Hell’s Kitchen. In a really small, dirty apartment above a laundry mat. It has no working lights at the moment,” I answer with an amused smile.

Then I feel uneasy. I can’t flirt with him anymore. This feels uncomfortable. I feel…greedy. Ashamed.

“You know, I’m going to step out for a bit. I’ll be back in twenty minutes or so.”

Dylan nods, but his eyes are once again fixated on his father. It’s his time to say goodbye. I quietly leave the room and begin a twenty-minute stroll through the busy hospital. I end up in the cafeteria and buy a coffee. I drink it fast and my stomach starts to sting.

I come back at 8:25. Dylan, Mrs. Biggus and her sister are talking loudly to each other. I’m hoping none of the medical staff notice my longer than usual break. When I walk back in the room, all three of  them smile at me. I smile back.

“We just learned that visiting hours are over at nine. We’re exhausted and going to leave soon, then come back first thing in the morning,” Mrs. Biggus announces.

“Oh, sure!” I say brightly. “You know, I’ll step out again so you can say goodnight.”

“Thank you, Erin. We appreciate that.”

I wander through the chilly hospital floors again. I feel sticky, bloated and tired and am not sure I’ll stay awake for the rest of my watch no matter how much coffee I drink.

I come back to the room at 9 PM. The family has left. I stare at Mr. Biggus longer than before. I shift closer to his bed and slowly lean over his face. His eyes look dry, so I grab the eye drops from my pocket and put three droplets in each eye. I inhale deeply. His breath smells fruity and sweet, acidic. I figure his kidneys, the main organs that rid the body of acid, are shutting down, so he’s compensating by blowing it out his mouth. I glance at his urine bag. It’s the same amount as this morning. I look at his monitor. His blood pressure is bouncing around from normal to low. I assume that’s okay, since none of  the nurses, who can also see his vital signs on their station monitors, are doing anything about it. Then I sigh, plop back down into my chair and settle in for a long night with Death.

I wake up to a deep, caffeinated voice saying, “He’s on three pressors! I’ve never seen anyone on more than two live. Never.”

It’s 11 PM, and I must have dozed off. I clumsily sit up in my chair and see the on-call family medicine doctor, Dr. Hansen. He’s standing with his hands on his hips and staring at Mr. Biggus. When he notices that I’m awake he waves me away and says, “Don’t worry about it. I won’t tell anyone you dozed off. I think it’s ridiculous they’re making you stay here for twenty-four hours straight.”

I smile sheepishly. “What were you saying about the pressors?”

“Well, in all of my clinical experience, I’ve never seen anyone on more than two medications to maintain their blood pressure beat Death. He’s on three. If you have to be on three drugs to maintain your pressure, you have a slim chance of making it. It’s a waste of resources.”

I frown and nod. He mutters something under his breath, turns and leaves the room.

Around 1 AM, I hear a gargling noise. I hop out of my chair and stand at the edge of Mr. Biggus’ bed. I turn my ear toward his chest, lower my head and listen. The noise is coming from his throat and seems to get louder when he inhales. The Death rattle. I remember reading that when someone gets close to the end, he or she loses the ability to swallow secretions. The secretions remain trapped in the throat and make a rattling noise, which some poet somewhere must have dubbed the Death rattle. I quietly listen for a few more minutes. The noise is ominous and unnerving. I move to the bottom half of his bed and check the swelling in his ankles. They’re obviously bigger than before. His heart is also closing shop. Each organ, shutting down one by one. I back away from the beeping, gargling bed and into my chair, fearful of what’s coming. I hug my knees to my chest. My eyes feel over-stretched, like they can’t shut. My heart is pounding and a new pile of sweat is making my scrubs stick to my skin. The Grim Reaper is near. I feel like I need a baseball bat to hit the giant, shadowy soul thief as soon as he enters the room.

2 AM comes and goes. I feel delirious, beyond tired. The ICU night shift is quiet yet busy. I watch as nurses in pink scrubs hurry to and from rooms. One of my classmates brings me a coffee from downstairs. I take a few sips and stare at Mr. Biggus. He looks pretty much the same. Maybe dryer and more shriveled, but for the most part, the same. I once read an article by Hospice which talked about the process of dying. It stated Death can take a long time since the spirit is busy resolving earthly issues before exiting the body. Perhaps Biggus is taking his time, because he’s attending to important matters of the spirit. I don’t always believe in a soul or a spirit. Right now, I do. I believe in good spirits and bad spirits. I believe I’ll see the Grim Reaper hovering over Biggus’ crusty, limp body.

At 4 AM, I grow jittery. My older sister, a doctor, always told me that people usually die in the early morning hours. I sit rigid in my chair with my eyes glued to the monitor. I’ve been continuously drinking coffee and feel caffeinated blood pumping fluidly through my limbs. I did some lunges and arm stretches. I’m ready, ready to wrestle Death if it comes to that. I glance at Mr. Biggus’ body and hope to see a more dramatic sign of impending doom. I’m half-expecting him to explode in fireworks of blood and flesh or maybe ghostly beings will appear and carry his soul away- something profound and definitive.

I study him longer, but nothing strikes me. Nothing looks or feels dramatic. His position hasn’t changed. There’s no spirits in the room. The monitor sounds the same, and his breathing rate has stayed steady for the last fifteen hours or so. I’m slightly disappointed. I thought Death would be more  histrionic. I thought it would live up to its reputation in poems and horror movies. Instead I feel like I’m watching an old car traveling at a steady speed on a one-lane road that will eventually sputter and stop.

That’s when a memory of him lit up my mind, like a movie that turned on by itself. The strangest romance of my past. Dangerous, really. When I first ran from him, I thought of him all the time, nervous I’d look out my bedroom window one night and see him staring at me. The passage of time, new guys and school helped, but sometimes the memory of him took a seat on my brain and stayed awhile. And sometimes it brought a lot of shame.

I wondered how he was going to die. He’s strong and works out all the time, but he’s getting older and that can’t last forever. And he still lives on the streets, that hasn’t changed. An ex convict, no one will hire him.Would anyone sit around his death bed and tell stories? Would anyone even care? Would I be there? Or would he curl up on the patio of an empty house and die like a rat?

Oh God…Oh God…,what is happening?

At 5:16 AM, the numbers on the monitor plummet. His blood pressure was at 90/50 for the past two hours, and then at 5:16, without warning, both numbers incrementally drop to 0.

“Wait. What? He has no pressure.” I mutter, as I urgently jump out of my chair. “Was…was that it? Was that Death?”

Tired and confused, I hurry into the main ICU area and loudly say, “Code? Anyone? Code! Mr. Biggus. His pressure is at 0.”

I couldn’t have sounded more unsure of myself if I tried. One of the night nurses blinks at me blankly. I keep repeating the words “code” and “no pressure” as if I’m a robot.

She then runs into Mr. Biggus’ room with a stethoscope in her hand.

“Code! Call the code! Get the doctors stat!” she screams from the room with authority and gusto.

“Code blue in the ICU. Code blue in the ICU,” I hear over the loudspeaker.

Doctors come running from every corner and every door as if they’re a combat team closing in on the enemy. Soon, around thirty white-coated men and women are swarming Biggus’ bed. A resident swiftly rolls up his sleeves and begins doing compressions on Mr. Biggus’ chest. When he pushes down, Mr. Biggus’ body makes a noise that sounds like someone walking through a mud bog. He’s congested with stagnant blood. Another resident replaces the breathless first one and begins doing forceful compressions, but Mr. Biggus isn’t responding. I stand in the far corner of the room and watch, hoping someone will hurry up and call the code before one of Biggus’ ribs cracks. They look like two guys working out at the gym- on the Death machine. Then Dr. Mir walks in the room.

“Okay, gang. Let’s get two chest tubes going fast! Let’s go, surgical team! Two chest tubes stat!” he yells to a gaggle of residents in the doorway.

My jaw drops when I hear Mir’s orders. He’s going to try to drain the dead man by putting two holes into his chest cavity. And bring him back… for what? So he can die again in a few minutes? This is scary- much scarier than Death. Death is merciful. Death is graceful. This is not.

This isn’t a science project, I think while slowly tiptoeing towards the door. The man is dead. He should be dead. Nature wants him dead. Even the residents seem reluctant to move. Dr. Mir barks orders at them again, which finally gets them moving. They better listen- he’s writing their evaluations. I decide I don’t want to watch anymore. This is just humans being stupid and self-important. There’s no logic or faith in the room. It’s nauseating. It’s heartbreaking. I have seen enough. I’m leaving.

I’m so tired and can’t think straight. I turn and walk out of the room. I’m going home to sleep on my mattress – sleep off my long, disappointing date with Death.

 

Thanks for reading, guys. 

If you’re interested in reading my book, Manic Kingdom, and learn more about the person who popped in my brain towards the end of this piece, click here: Manic Kingdom   

But, fair warning: It’s dark, full of uncertainties and will probably make you… uncomfortable.

Manic Kingdom by Erin Stair

If you want something a little lighter and more comedic, check out Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling.

Yours in Wellness, Krystal Heeling

Best,

Erin – follow me on Instagram

Check out my podcast, Causes or Cures 

 

Copyright: Erin Stair, MD, MPH
None of this can be reproduced without permission 

From the Blog:

Sleep Better Like a CavePerson 

The post My Long First Date with Death appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/my-long-first-date-with-death/feed/ 5
Medicating Normal https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/medicating-normal-what-it-means-and-an-interview-with-the-director-of-the-movie/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/medicating-normal-what-it-means-and-an-interview-with-the-director-of-the-movie/#respond Sat, 10 Oct 2020 16:51:40 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20831 What does medicating normal mean? Does it happen? Should we refrain from medicating emotions and feelings that are perfectly normal given the circumstances? These and related topics will be discussed in this Causes or Cures podcast episode. In this episode , I chat with Wendy Ractcliffe and Angela Peacock about the documentary film, Medicating Normal. […]

The post Medicating Normal appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
Medicating Normal

What does medicating normal mean? Does it happen? Should we refrain from medicating emotions and feelings that are perfectly normal given the circumstances? These and related topics will be discussed in this Causes or Cures podcast episode.

In this episode , I chat with Wendy Ractcliffe and Angela Peacock about the documentary film, Medicating Normal. Wendy is a director and executive producter of the film and Angela, a combat veteran, is featured in the film. Angela is also a social worker and part of the film’s outreach team. We’ve been chatting off and on about how to get more veterans to see the film. It’s no secret that veterans, at any age, are often given a lot of medication to cope with the invisible scars of war, and now more and more people are concerned that such a drug-heavy approach may be doing more harm than good. As a West Point graduate, I know about this firsthand. Many veterans have written me inquiring about more holistic approaches to anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, stress, etc., and many have asked for resources to help them come off psychiatric medication. The latter is an area starving for more research. Coming off psychiatric medication can be frightening and awful for many people, and they need to know what help is available to them. In my experience, many traditional doctors are not well trained to manage it.

From their website, Medicating Normal is the “untold story of what can happen when profit-driven medicine intersects with human beings in distress.” The documentary follows Angela, a Naval Academy Graduate and his wife, a teenager and a waitress as they struggle with unexpected prescription side effects, polypharmacy, dependency and withdrawal symptoms from drugs that were taken as prescribed. Watching the folks in the documentary struggle with the plethora of side effects is tough, especially because they’re young and otherwise healthy and because they weren’t expecting such a fight. Having to manage side effects wasn’t on their radar, most likely becaue their doctors did not reliably inform them of the possibility. I experienced something similar firsthand, when I was a medical student. I was given an SSRI ( antidepressant) by a psychiatrist and took it as prescribed. About three-four weeks in, I didn’t feel better. I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like a tranquilzied blob that was detached from my emotions and feelings. I didn’t feel less depressed, instead I felt like my feelings where shoes stuck in gum. They were there but I couldn’t access or express them freely. I also had severe dried mouth. After about five-six weeks of being on them, my mind didn’t function properly. I made very hasty and impulsive decisions, one of which nearly cost me my life. I ended up quitting school, flying across the country and living with a mysterious man I met on the beach. No one knew where I was. The man, though helpful in many ways, was not who he said he was. Yes, this is a true story. Yes, it’s crazy. But it happened, and I’m lucky to live to tell about it. Though I can’t conclude that antidepressants caused me to have that experience, I often wonder if they played a role. Anyhow, if you’re interested in dark, fast-paced reads that will make you question a lot of things, I invite you to read Manic Kingdom.  It might make you scared and uncomfortable, though, so I don’t recommend it to everyone.

Anhow…

This podcast covers what “medicating normal” means, the importance of informed consent, the struggle to be heard and taken seriously, while not being labeled “anti-psychiatry,” how people overcame their unexpected struggle with prescription medication, the future of mental health and what optimal, long-lasting healing looks like. Angela not only gets very personal in the podcast, but she also shares her insight on how these topics relate specifically to the veteran community. I really hope you guys listen to it.

Thanks so much!

Erin

Other blogs or podcasts to check out:

Alzheimer’s Disease: The latest research and how to prevent it , with Dr. Douglass Watt

Natural ways to Improve Memory: Binaural Acoustics

 

Feel free to follow me on Instagram or Facebook! 

 

The post Medicating Normal appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/medicating-normal-what-it-means-and-an-interview-with-the-director-of-the-movie/feed/ 0
Medical Trivia: The Case of the Wrong Monkey https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/medical-trivia-the-case-of-the-wrong-monkey/ https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/medical-trivia-the-case-of-the-wrong-monkey/#respond Sat, 10 Oct 2020 11:55:31 +0000 https://bloomingwellness.com/?p=20824 More medical trivia coming your way!  I hope you guys enjoy these as much as I enjoy sharing them. I thought this one was especially interesting, since we’re in the throes of a pandemic and vaccine research is in the news. It shows how one altruistic and seemingly scientific move from a well-respected and esteemed […]

The post Medical Trivia: The Case of the Wrong Monkey appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
More medical trivia coming your way!  I hope you guys enjoy these as much as I enjoy sharing them.

I thought this one was especially interesting, since we’re in the throes of a pandemic and vaccine research is in the news. It shows how one altruistic and seemingly scientific move from a well-respected and esteemed scientist can lead you down a road of wrong conclusions for a very long time. It should keep us humble, but it probably won’t.

Medical Trivia

 

You can check out more of these on my Instagram page. 

 

Have a good one, guys!

Erin xo

The post Medical Trivia: The Case of the Wrong Monkey appeared first on Blooming Wellness.

]]>
https://bloomingwellness.com/2020/10/medical-trivia-the-case-of-the-wrong-monkey/feed/ 0